Hand Exercises

How to do Hand Exercises

Hand exercises can be helpful to almost anyone. These exercises can strengthen the hands, improve flexibility and movement, and increase blood flow to the hands.

These results can make work and daily tasks easier. Hand exercises can be especially helpful for people who have joint pain from arthritis or have nerve damage from overuse (carpal tunnel syndrome). These exercises can also help people who have injured a hand.

Most of these hand exercises are fairly gentle stretching routines. You can do them often throughout the day. Still, it is a good idea to ask your health care provider which exercises would be best for you. Warming your hands before exercise may help to reduce stiffness. You can do this with gentle massage or by placing your hands in warm water for 15 minutes. Also, make sure you pay attention to your level of hand pain as you begin an exercise routine.

Exercises

Knuckle bend

Repeat this exercise 5–10 times with each hand.

  1. Stand or sit with your arm, hand, and all five fingers pointed straight up. Make sure your wrist is straight.
  2. Gently and slowly bend your fingers down and inward until the tips of your fingers are touching the tops of your palm.
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  4. Extend your fingers out to their original position, all pointing straight up again.

Finger fan

Repeat this exercise 5–10 times with each hand.

  1. Hold your arm and hand out in front of you. Keep your wrist straight.
  2. Squeeze your hand into a fist.
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  4. Fan out, or spread apart, your hand and fingers as much as possible, stretching every joint fully.

Tabletop

Repeat this exercise 5–10 times with each hand.

  1. Stand or sit with your arm, hand, and all five fingers pointed straight up. Make sure your wrist is straight.
  2. Gently and slowly bend your fingers at the knuckles where they meet the hand until your hand is making an upside-down L shape. Your fingers should form a tabletop.
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  4. Extend your fingers out to their original position, all pointing straight up again.

Making Os

Repeat this exercise 5–10 times with each hand.

  1. Stand or sit with your arm, hand, and all five fingers pointed straight up. Make sure your wrist is straight.
  2. Make an O shape by touching your pointer finger to your thumb. Hold for a few seconds. Then open your hand wide.
  3. Repeat this motion with each finger on your hand.

Table spread

Repeat this exercise 5–10 times with each hand.

  1. Place your hand on a table with your palm facing down. Make sure your wrist is straight.
  2. Spread your fingers out as much as possible. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  3. Slide your fingers back together again. Hold for a few seconds.

Ball grip

Repeat this exercise 10–15 times with each hand.

  1. Hold a tennis ball or another soft ball in your hand.
  2. While slowly increasing pressure, squeeze the ball as hard as possible.
  3. Squeeze as hard as you can for 3–5 seconds.
  4. Relax and repeat.

Wrist curls

Repeat this exercise 10–15 times with each hand.

  1. Sit in a chair that has armrests.
  2. Hold a light weight in your hand, such as a dumbbell that weighs 1–3 pounds (0.5–1.4 kg). Ask your health care provider what weight would be best for you.
  3. Rest your hand just over the end of the chair arm with your palm facing up.
  4. Gently pivot your wrist up and down while holding the weight. Do not twist your wrist from side to side.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your hand pain or discomfort gets much worse when you do an exercise.
  • Your hand pain or discomfort does not improve within 2 hours after you exercise.

If you have any of these problems, stop doing these exercises right away. Do not do them again unless your health care provider says that you can.

Get help right away if:

  • You develop sudden, severe hand pain. If this happens, stop doing these exercises right away. Do not do them again unless your health care provider says that you can.